A few days ago I had a long conversation with a close friend about
I think we all have days, weeks, months or perhaps even years in life where we feel "stuck", where the flow of progress seems to slow down or stall (at least in our opinion). I believe that there are natural ebbs and flows to our existence in this world, but on the same key I think we naturally abjure the periods where our progress feels obstructed, blocked or otherwise diminished.
Perhaps we are all secretly bobsledders who want to race towards the finish line (of success)!
It can be extremely challenging for the soul (not to mention our patience) when we are "stuck" in an fulfilling career, facing difficult financial stress, enduring a lull in a relationship or just dealing with some phase on the sea of life where the winds of change have stopped blowing. Does that mean your job or relationship or financial choices are terrible? No; it can just mean that something needs to happen to change the game (even if that change needs to be your attitude about the circumstances).
So what is to be done? How can we break out of that "stuck" feeling? Do we wait for God, fate or the winds of change to make it happen? We could. I'm all for faith and optimism, but true faith and optimism are action principles, so maybe the change we are waiting for has to come from within. Here are four questions to ask every morning in order to see your life (and yourself) progress and grow in leaps and bounds.
The concept of love is a fluid notion, and yet it remains one of mankind's most powerful emotions. There is love from parent to child, between siblings, with friends, for grandparents, even love for teammates, comrades in arms, neighbors, mentors and religious leaders. And let's not forget a love for God in all his glory.
And yet, not to sound blasphemous, perhaps there is nothing more glorious than love between spouses.
We have all seen (or even experienced) bad marriages where anger, jealousy, bitterness and contention ruled the day. Some of us have built up nigh-impenetrable barriers around our own hearts because we fear getting hurt (again), walls so thick that we actually begin to give up on love, to wave at it like a passing stranger when it brings two others together because at the end of the day, true love can't possibly exist for us, can it?
I want to tell you about the validity of love, the true nature of love, the undeniable power of love, and show you what it looks like...at 97 years of age.
Someone recently asked me if I had any words of advice for this year's graduating high school seniors. While the inquiry was hardly a surprise (not saying that about me, I'm referring to the fact that Facebook has become "I'm proud of my grad!" central lately), it really got me thinking. What do I wish someone had told me upon graduation? What would I go back, if I could, and tell that newly-minted young 18 year-old Skyline High School (Go Eagles!) alumni?
Here are Five Lessons for the Class of 2015 (and 2016, 2017, etc.):
First off, congratulations! I know that graduating high school may not feel like a huge accomplishment, but it really is and you should feel proud of yourself for reaching the finish line! So pat yourself on the back, enjoy a great graduation trip or party with your friends and be sure to thank your parents and every teacher who go you to this point in your life, even the ones you didn't like!
Now, for some advice. Most people who experience what I'm about to describe don't know when it happens, but somewhere between Junior High School and perhaps the mid- to late-twenties, their most powerful dreams and aspirations for life begin to slowly dim (although I won't say fade away entirely). I always say that everyone has a story so it is up to us to make it a good one! The problem, however, is that once you are out of high school the freedom that you have been arguing for with your parents is going to hit you like a ton of bricks. Sure, some of you may still be financially supported by Mom and/or Dad for a few more years, but eventually your life becomes 100% your own...and with the demands of a career, of family, of bills, health management, and even just putting food on the table, that is scarier than you can imagine.
But those challenges in life are wonderful things and there is no reason that they need to stand in the way of your biggest aspirations. You are the author of your life, and the editor. You will make mistakes, you will fail and you will fall flat on your face, and that's ok. No matter what happens, hold on to your dreams. Modify them if you have to, adjust when needs be, but keep aiming for the stars. That freedom that you have worked so hard to have, the one built upon your life so far and your educational accomplishments (and athletic, musical, social, artistic, etc.), it puts the power to create a good life squarely in your hands. Bad things will happen, they happen to all of us, but so will amazingly incredible and beautiful things. Be optimistic, be hopeful, be bold, be dashing, but most of all, be a dreamer.
Several years ago (1997 to be exact) I found myself staring down the brand new Park City, UT 2002 Winter Olympic bobsled track, about to take a ride in a four-man bobsled that would change my life. It was perfect timing, too, since I was an active high school sophomore who, like so many teens, was struggling to figure out who he was in the world. And while I would absolutely categorize myself as a good kid, I also battled the hidden burdens of anxiety and depression and probably a lower self-esteem than everyone (including myself) thought I had, so bobsled was a Heaven-sent way for me to gain confidence, direction, aspirations, motivation and much more.
But let's be honest, high school is a period of our lives that most of us are glad to be past. And yet, those formative years were crucial in our personal development and where we often gain an inaccurate perspective on one aspect of life: failure.
That's right, I used the F-word: failure. F-a-i-l-u-r-e. I could even unleash my inner child: failurefailurefailurefailurefailurefailure. FAILURE.
When we think of "failure" we often conjure up negative words and connotations like loser, mistake, unable, defeated, fiasco, messy, unsuccessful, and worst of all, not good enough. I hate that one. And while I spoke of high school, even elementary school kids have developed the mental picture that failure = bad, success = good.
But what if, just what if a bad failure could be seen as a good success?
"Did he just Jedi-mind trick me?", you may ask. Not exactly, but the question you should really ask is "What if everything I know about failure is wrong?"
Answer: I think it is. Let me introduce you to The Art of Failing Forward.
"What does it feel like to crash?"
That seems to be the second most popular question I receive when people find out I'm a bobsled pilot and coach (the first being, 'Have you seen Cool Runnings?' which of course I have). What does a bobsled crash feel like? Sadly, most people are disappointed that not every crash results in concussions, broken bones, or near death experiences. They can be violent, yes, but usually a bobsled crash is just a "hold on and wait for the ride to come to a complete stop" kind of affair. You try to keep your body off the ice so you don't get ice burns (which can be pretty nasty), but a crash is just part of the sport and you learn to roll with the punches.
I guess you could say that that is one of the first things bobsled taught me about adversity, that in order to keep playing the game you have to roll with the punches and keep moving forward. It is natural for newer drivers to be nervous about driving the track again after they just crashed, but you always silently cheer for those who face those fears and do it anyway. In life, we all face a choice whenever adversity or hard times come our way: we can let the fear prevent us from trying again, from dreaming again, from loving again or from believing in goodness again, but that choice is ours alone. As bobsled athletes, no coach can force us to take to the ice if we decide that our fears are more valid than our goals. Similarly, in life no one, not even God, can force us to reach for the stars if we choose to listen to our fears instead of our faith, and I'm not talking religious faith; I mean our beliefs that life can be amazing if we work for it and allow good things come our way.
Often during the month of November we see "30 Days of Thanksgiving" challenges that push us to develop gratitude for the blessings that we so often overlook and take for granted. And while I love such challenges, they often only require us to declare our thankfulness on social media and nothing more. And that's not enough.
So, here's a challenge that is truly an activity challenge. During my "30 Days of Thankful-ness Giving" you'll have to not only do some soul-searching to discover what you're grateful for, you'll have to do things for others and for yourself to express your gratitude. This challenge will open your heart, deepen your soul, strengthen your relationships and most of all bring peace and joy to your life.
Developing a spirit of gratitude has been shown to improve our immune systems, increase our level of happiness, deep our relationships and build optimism for daily life. So good luck and happy holidays! May this season be full of laughter, love, light and football...I mean, wonder.
Day 1: Life's Experiences - Do you realize how amazing you are? A living, breathing human being! Take a moment and write a list of ten life events that you are grateful occurred to help you be you.
Day 2: Parents - As imperfect as they are, your parents did their best to love and raise you right. Pick up the phone and call your mother or father (or a mentor) to tell them how much you appreciate their influence in your life.
Day 3: Best Friend - Friends are the spice of life, so write your best friend a letter outlining all the reasons you are thankful that they are in your life.
Day 4: Neighbor - "It takes a village" as they say and neighbors are an important part of our lives. Make a taste treat and take it to a neighbor who has been a wonderful friend for you and/or your family.
Day 5: Blessings - Spend a quiet 15-minutes today just thinking about all the blessings that you have in your life and nothing else.
Day 6: Body - Do something active today! Get outside and enjoy the fresh air and give thanks for the body that you have, despite what you think may be its faults or "problem areas".
Day 7: Mind - Spend time reviewing a favorite childhood memory, then think about what you did yesterday, and finally think about a problem in your life and come up with a solution. Lastly, be grateful for a healthy mind that can do all three of those things and spend some time in a good book today to exercise your brain!
Someday “Just friends” Will be “Best Friends”
Someday “I think highly of you” Will be “I can’t stop thinking about you”
Someday “I have to go” Will be “I don’t want you to ever leave”
Someday “I’m glad you’re in my life” Will be “I can’t imagine life without you”
Someday “We’re going in different directions" Will be “Where can we go together?”
Someday “I’m here for you” Will be “I’d give my life for you”
Someday “You’re pretty great” Will be “You’re my everything”
Someday “I admire your life” Will be “Let’s build a life together”
-Jeremy C. Holm
With the Sochi, Russia XXII Olympic Winter Games, or the 22nd Winter Olympics, upon us, the world is eagerly anticipating watching their favorite sports and over 2,800 athletes compete on the global stage as they strive to win gold in 98 events in 15 winter sport disciplines.
But why should they have all the fun?
The Games remind us of all the good that we can do in this world when we follow our dreams. I think the Olympics are so loved because they speak to the inner child we all carry in our hearts, that part of ourselves that still believes, still hopes and still dreams. And the Games, along with the inspirational example of our athletes, invite us to let our inner child go play, go dream, go hope and go live an amazing life without fear, insecurities or regrets.
To that end, I put together this 2014 Olympics Bingo card so you and your friends and family can have fun as you watch, laugh, cry, sigh, gasp and cheer! Just right-click on the image below and print to enjoy!
Alternatively, you can download a PDF version of the Olympic Bingo card HERE
A recent encounter with a bump in the road (aka "adversity") in the pursuit of one of my goals, for some reason my mind turned to Peter the apostle in the Bible's New Testament. Now, even if you aren't Christian, keep reading because I realized that one of Peter's experiences in his life can teach us quite a bit about setting, keeping and working for goals.
The story in question is found in St. Mathew chapter 14 (or St. Mark 6 and St. John 6). The story tells us that Jesus Christ's disciples, of which Peter was one, were out on a small fishing boat on the Sea of Galilee on their way to Capernaum. We read that it was late at night, during the "fourth watch" which according to the Roman's method of keeping time was "quarta vigilia noctis", or just before dawn, which tells us that the disciples had been rowing and fighting the storm throughout the night.
Now storms on the Sea of Galilee can be quite violent due to the cold air coming down from the hills around the sea where it meets the warmer air around the Galilee due to the lower elevation. So there the disciples were; it was late, it was violently stormy, the wind was roaring, the waves were crashing over the tiny boat's sides and the rain was coming down in sheets. It was at this point that Jesus appeared, walking across the thrashing water. While the disciples feard it was spirit at first, Jesus said "Be of good acheer; it is I; be not afraid." Peter, upon seeing his master, cries out, "Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water." to which Jesus simply responds, "Come." This is where it gets interesting.
After spending half a lifetime surrounded by some of the best athletes in the world, I've learned quite a bit about setting effective resolutions for life. From Olympic gold medalists to world champions, these competitors continually set the bar high in pursuit of athletic, personal, work and educational goals.
Over the years as an athlete, then a coach, now an athlete again I have taken the lessons I have learned from these champions and applied them in my own life, in addition to my own insights and methods, and have discovered that there is truth to the saying that "you can do anything you set your mind to." The caveat is that it takes careful planning and hard work, so here are five gold-medal tips to help you set and keep those New Year's Resolutions!
1. Discover the Why
So often I encounter people who set great New Year's Resolutions, but fail to achieve them because they set them to impress or appease others.Any goal or objective that we set because of some outside social pressure is bound to fail. Why do you want to go to the gym more in 2014? Is it to improve your health and feel more fit? Or is it because you feel that you need to because society demands it? Why do you want to get a better job in 2014? Is it to feel satisfaction through a better use of your time and abilities? Or is it to tell others you have a fancy title and therefore feel (falsely) important? New Year's Resolutions that last are ones that are set because WE want to set and achieve them. So ask yourself: WHY do you want to set and achieve X, Y, and Z resolutions? Is it for yourself, or for others?
Several years ago while sitting with a trusted friend we began to reminisce about high school. As I talked about the good and bad that comes with that "joyous" time of life, I thought back to my younger self's battles for identity and the additional silent wars fought against anxiety and depression. Imagine trying to define yourself while dealing with those particular ghosts in the closet?
My friend immediately noticed the quiet change that came over my face. "You ok?"
"I feel sorry for him," I said quietly. And I did. When I thought back to all that my 15-18 year old self had to deal with, I silently wanted to applaud the fact that I had survived. Depression sucks at any age, let alone to a barely-able-to-drive kid who thought his world revolved around bobsled, girls, good grades and my faith. I didn't know words like "cope", "share", "vent", "heal" and "support." All I knew was that I was supposed to keep it together, put the big smile on my face and make it through. Like many guys, I would be damned before I admitted I needed a helping hand.
Recently I had the opportunity to participate in a charity masquerade dance/event to raise money for a young boy suffering from a costly medical condition. It was a real joy to help provide some surprise relief for this boy’s family as the holiday season (and medical bills) approached.
During the event I observed some fascinating social behaviors displayed by the attendees, 99% of whom were single and fell within the 25-50 age range. I noticed these same mannerisms at several Halloween functions I went to which piqued my curiosity even further.
I’m a people watcher, an “observer”. While I often find myself the center of attention as a speaker or visiting athlete or host, I am perfectly content just sitting with a small group of friends and talking the night away. However, more often than not I do not have the luxury of doing this, so over the years I have learned to quickly evaluate the personalities, mindsets, habits, attitudes, desires and motivations of the crowd, group or person(s) I find myself associating with for whatever event I am at.
As I watched the people at the masquerade and Halloween parties, I noticed that many were willing to give up their uniqueness in a good-intentioned attempt to be unique. Confused? Let me put it another way: I saw people put on the “important” and “required” social and fashion “masks” in order to fit in when they really desired to stand out.
Several years ago I went backpacking with a group down to Paria Canyon in Southern Utah. Located within the Paria Canyon-Vermillion Cliffs Wilderness Area, this beautiful 50-mile hike was a breathtaking adventure in some of God's greatest creations. With stunning sandstone "sculptures" molded by wind and water and overwhelming 300-400 foot tall cliff walls, this trip was where I fell in love with Southern Utah.
During this trip we would sleep out under the stars and I remember one night gazing up into the cosmos and trying to count the infinite number of bright lights that hung in the night sky. The air was so clear down there that I felt as though I could raise up my hand and touch the stars.
Touching the stars. Not many of us try to do that anymore. As kids we all had these marvelous dreams and hopes for the future, but somewhere along the way we start to lose that magic, that special spark of "anything is possible". Reality sets in and imagination goes out the window. No wonder so many people in this world are bored, sad, lonely and discouraged! You can see it in their eyes; they've stopped dreaming.
They've stopped reaching for the stars.